title

Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Search

Loading...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Little Diversion

I know. It's been a while. But radio silence on this blog is coming to a screeching halt! I have a serious backlog of things to write about, so there may be a flurry of posts in coming days.

Despite the backlog, I'm going to start with my most recent diversion. I went on a seriously fun bike ride last Saturday, and tonight I'm still smiling and giggling with glee. Ride Studio Cafe and Honey Bikes put together an awesome event and they built a bike, just for me, just for the occasion. Really! They did! How cool is that?

And in the true spirit of Just-In-Time manufacturing, it came off the bike stand about 15 minutes before the start of the ride. But no fear, I hopped on the new bike, rode it around the block, across some cobblestones, down a trail and off and onto curbs a few times, and then headed out to do a group ride on twisty trails, with rocks and roots and bridges and boardwalks, grinning ear to ear the whole time!

I had a blast, but for some reason, kept thinking about coffee!

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

OK, that was the Reader's Digest version. Now for the rest of the story...

I started designing this bike in my mind last year during the Green Mountain Double Century. Or maybe it was actually years before that I really started pondering it, whenever I'd find myself on a rough dirt road, with a steep climb or a wet descent.

My dream bike really had just a few simple requirements - fat comfortable high performance tires, clearance and mounts for fenders with those cushy tires, powerful non-fiddly brakes, comfortable but still high performance geometry, and gears low enough to get me up Archambo Road (D2R2 vets know what I mean with that requirement). And it goes without saying that the bike must be fun to ride - and have a homing device that directs it to good coffee shops.

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark
 
The Honey All Roads brought this all together for me. Ride Studio Cafe has carried Honey Bikes since the shop opened. I remember the early days of going into to drink coffee and drool over this belt-drive single speed with wood fenders. So I admit that I have lusted after a Honey Bike for a while now. But recently, Honeys have been taking over more floor space at RSC and working their way into my dreams even more.

However, the path to get me to this day was actually a winding one. After borrowing the shop's Seven Titanium Cafe Racer last summer, I found myself looking for ways to finance a new fixed gear machine with a belt. A few months ago, I started selling off a few bikes to do just that, and then began the order process. So I started out asking for a belt-drive fixie. And then I added disk brakes. Belt-drive mean you don't get your hands dirty handling a chain, and disk brakes would keep the rims (and therefore hands) clean, when fixing a puncture. We'd need an eccentric bottom bracket to work with the disks of course. Once I had disks on the brain, I thought of Green Mountain Double, which even I would never be crazy enough to do on fixed, so I thought, let's make the bike extra versatile and also build an internally geared wheel to work with the belt. I'll ride it fixed most of the time, but geared for a few dirt road rides, and oh yeah, while we're at it, let's also make it work for Mt Washington. When all the specs came back I realized I had inadvertently designed Franken-bike, and apologized repeatedly as I suggested we just rip those plans in half - and instead make two bikes. So I'm still getting the Cafe Racer, but it's back to being simple and light, like the one I borrowed last summer (and have kidnapped now). We are still going to do something to give me Mt Washington gearing, and since I dropped all that talk of disk brakes with an eccentric, it will be super-light. And always fixed, with just a simple change to go from regular fixie road riding to Mt Washington fixie gearing.But that's not what this post is about...

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

Now for my dirt road adventures, I looked at the various new team Honeys on display at the Studio and asked for a cross between the cross bike and the winter/rando bike. I wanted the fat tire clearance and disk brakes with carbon fork from the cross bike, the fender mounts and all-day geometry of the rando bike, with even lower gears than either had to help me climb some of the really long steep roads on Green Mountain Double and D2R2. And thus, the All Roads was conceived.

Then the Diverged Ride was announced. And the beekeeper promised I'd have my new bike in time for that event. Now I really like riding the lovely hard pack dirt roads in Vermont on my road bike, and I even do the occasional easy trails nearby on the same bike with 700X26mm tires. And this was really what I had in mind - dirt roads on much fatter tires than I can fit into my Seven to give me the confidence to really let loose on hard pack dirt descents, and light enough to not hold me back on the climbs. I hadn't really thought much about actual trails and rolling over rocks and roots. But my new Honey should allow me to do that with ease! And since they'd worked so hard to get it ready in time, I'd give it a go.

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

The bike was set up with 650BX42 tires  pumped up to about 30 pounds of pressure.  Now I know plenty of folks on the ride did just what I am afraid to attempt on their 25 or 28mm tires, so don't think I am suggesting otherwise - after all that was what Rob was doing at the front of our group. Maybe if I didn't have such a vocal inner chicken, I would try these things on the skinny tires. But old dog, new tricks...

Now I literally got the bike 15 minutes before the start of the ride. It was set up with all my preferred positioning - so I could just hop on and it fit like a glove, and it was absolutely confidence inspiring in the ride and feel. So don't get me wrong when I admit that I was still a wee bit nervous, going out on a group ride with a brand new bike with an absolutely gorgeous paint job.

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

And this wasn't just any group ride. Despite signing up for the last group - the supposed fun easy (slower) group, the names on the sign-up list included stars of NECX, who could probably ride this terrain blindfolded. But despite this, everyone really was there to have fun, and there were no egos on display, and fun was the order of the day.

I offered to sweep. I had a GPS with the route loaded, so I could help if we got too spread out. More importantly, this would give me an excuse to be at the back! I took it pretty easy on the first few trail sections and slowly gained more and more confidence to just roll over stuff. After a few miles, I stopped worrying about scratching the beautiful new paint. I plowed over rocks and roots. I stayed on the bike through tight turns. I dropped into those low-low gears to get up the steep stuff with traffic slowing down ahead, and then thoroughly enjoyed the non-shocking descents and the awesome stopping power of those brakes. The first bridge we crossed had nice high railings (thanks Rob), so I didn't have to panic. And I got better and more confident on each new section of boardwalk. Now I'm still a chicken. Don't get me wrong. No bike will perform the miracle of suddenly transforming me into fearless log-hopper, but this bike and those tires let me ride the kind of things I really want to ride with a smile on my face.

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

Rob did an awesome job leading our group, keeping us together and keeping it fun. A few days later, I'm still grinning ear to ear. I had such a great time on the trails and loved riding my new bike so much that I headed back out later that day to do some more trails and then pumped the tires up to 45 pounds and took it out on a couple of pure road rides over the next two days - maintaining the same average pace I normally do. It is indeed an All Roads bike.

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

A final note... I'm using Chris King Hubs, infamous for the angry bees sound they make when you freewheel, and thought initially to name my new Honey, The Angry Bees. But after a few days, I realized there was nothing angry about the bike, so I've named her Honey Bees! So keep your eye out for me and Honey Bees on a trail or dirt road or paved road near you! We'll be buzzing and grinning sweetly!


Special thanks to Jeff at Ride Studio Cafe for working so hard late Friday night and coming back in early Saturday morning to get the bike ready in time for the ride - and to all the beekeepers back at Honey Bikes for such a fine job on the frame. Also thanks to Rob V. for letting me use all his great photos.

Photo courtesy of Rob Vandermark

Oh and since folks will inevitably ask, here's the component specs. After thinking back to my last experience with an IGH and how I didn't really love it, I dropped that whole idea and went with chain, cassette and derailleurs. I am using a mix of SRAM Apex and X9, with a compact (50/34) crank and 12-36 cassette, so I've got a lower than 1 to 1 gear to get up Archambo Rd, and a nice range of gears to cover all terrain. I'm using SRAM bar-end shifters because that's where my hands expect to find shifters, and SRAM 500 brake levers with Avid cable-actuated 160 disk brakes. The fork is an Enve Carbon disk fork with oodles of clearance. Wheels are Velocity Blunt SL rims laced to Chris King Angry Bees hubs, sporting Gran Bois Hetre 650BX42 tires.

9 comments:

  1. Fun,interesting, informative and good tech details! Thanks for sharing. Jim Duncan

    ReplyDelete
  2. It sounds like your new bicycle rides as nice as it looked. That's a great bicycle.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you tried to take the Hetres tubeless? I have a some on Blunt Sl rims and tried - 1 tire worked and 1 didn't. I used Orange Seal. I may try again when the one that failed wears out.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nope. I have not tried tubeless.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Curious on your thoughts about the handling with a front handlebar bag? Does it have eyelets for fender mounts?

    ReplyDelete
  6. It handles great with a small bar bag - it was designed for it. I've used it lots with my small ortlieb, with light load: camera, wallet, some food. But also recently transported a few pounds of dirty clothes in a larger bar bag - with no noticeable affect on handling.

    And yes, it was customized with fender mounts - see later posts for photos with fenders and bar bag!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice setup. In addition to fender mounts, are there mounts for racks?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, it does also have rack mounts, making it incredibly versatile. I will get some newer photos posted soon. Lots of dirt road rides coming up soon, so it will be seeing lots of action in coming weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This sort of bike is just waiting for people to recognize its attributes. What w/ its truly utilitarian tire clearance & ability to use the Low gearing necessary to ride the Real Stuff. The State of the art Steels are the requisite materials for this ride.
    I'm looking...

    ReplyDelete